In light of the release of the A-level results on Feb 24, Thir.st talked to some young adults about the day they received their A-level result slips and how their lives unfolded thereafter. The conclusion: Success in our educational system isn’t as simple as scoring straight As, and that imperfection does not mean failure.
Benjamin Kwok was born to entertain. Funny, eloquent and comfortable in front of a crowd, Ben saw his future self as a newscaster or actor, and set his sights on Hollywood. Little did he know his future audience was going to be slightly different from what he’d imagined.
The day he collected his A-Level results was a day of mixed feelings, Ben said. Leading up to that day, Ben had a feeling he’d messed up during the exams. “I was walking around with my head in the ground for the past three months thinking God had let me down, when in fact I had let Him down.”
Then God came through. “When I got my results back, I got 4 H2 As and a B for GP. Which goes to show His grace is beyond my wildest dreams.”
But then came the next dilemma: Where would he choose to go?
“Despite the unexpectedly good grades, the decision was especially difficult. Even before the results, Medicine was out – I was afraid of blood and needles. Law wasn’t even within reasonable contemplation because I never felt strong at written English. I applied for SMU and secured my place in business and accountancy with scholarship.”
Still, his father suggested that he try Law – to “be a mouthpiece for those who couldn’t speak for themselves”, Ben said.
Without much thought, Ben applied for Law. “I committed my decision to the Lord, and said, Lord if it’s your will, open doors. There was no stress because there was no expectation. By God’s grace, I got accepted.”
But the stress came quickly. He continued to wrestle with God through National Service, then Law school.
“Don’t tell my friends, but after one semester I secretly tried to quit. Looking back, I can say for sure that the journey was tough,” he said.
But God’s plans are always bigger than mountains right in front of us. Apart from the professional training, Ben – who graduated last year and is now training at a local law firm – believes the uncomfortable environment forced open his spiritual eyes to see God’s presence every step of the way, building faith and character.
“Don’t tell my friends, but after one semester I secretly tried to quit. Looking back, I can say for sure that the journey was tough.”
“In all seriousness, it’s not the salary or the nice people that keep me going. It’s the knowledge that no matter where you are in life, God has a purpose for you to be there. And if it’s His purpose, then you’re in the right place. He’s free to use any course, anything you do, to mould you into Christlikeness,” said Ben.
“If grades become the be-all and end-all, you’ll find that it’s fleeting. The chase for grades will never end, because they just take a different form when you graduate, in the form of KPIs, promotions or another boss to please. If you find meaning in that, it’s a never-ending pursuit.”
Ben said he now holds loosely to his career, and tightly to God. “The job doesn’t define me. It’s always been Jesus. I can’t tell you for sure where I’ll be in a few years – God knows. But I rest easy.”
He’s not being literal. His work often spills into late nights and weekends, which he said strains his health and relationships. Yet, his greatest joy comes from being where God wants him to be. He continues to serve in church as a worship team guitarist. And when he needs a boost, he stops to look back at the path God has taken him on, from A Levels to attorney.
“In four years, or six for the army boys, I hope you will see that God carried you as he carried me. I started with a lot of regrets and the middle years were tumultuous, but God was there,” said Ben. “He was faithful and carried me each step of the way.”
Benjamin is one of three young working adults we interviewed who went through very different journeys after their A Levels, but who have all seen their paths come good. Read the journey of Vernon, the robotics otaku who wouldn’t give up on his dream, and Caron, the nurse who took a different route to hospital.